EDP narrows in on new hire, future plans

— At the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board table, goals are being pursued, said Scott Cook, EDP board chairman.

Starting with hiring an economic specialist to take the place of a director.

The hiring committee met with five individuals last week and has narrowed that down to two finalists, Cook said.

"All five of the people are very qualified," Cook said. "All five would work."

Although all candidates had "very good" people skills, the finalists set themselves apart with their experience level and background, Cook said.

Cook and the hiring committee have their work cut out for them in choosing between the final two, he said.

"They're two very different people," he said. "We'd like to hire both of them, really, if just for their different skill sets."

The hiring committee hopes to conduct second interviews with the candidates by the end of the week.

Ideally, a person would accept the job and be able to meet the rest of the board before starting around the beginning of January, Cook said.

Interim Director Scott Ford has agreed to stay on for another month or so to share his experience with economic growth in the Yampa Valley and how the EDP office runs, Cook said.

It's all part of trying to get the position to start as quickly as possible, Cook added.

"Whoever ends up being our new person hopefully can hit the ground at 60 miles per hour," he said.

Other objectives out there included getting caught up with membership contributions and providing meaningful economic analysis to Craig.

Membership due forms were mailed out last week, Ford said.

There were 58 invoices mailed, and if each one were paid in full it would amount to about $67,000, he told the board.

"We're challenged at the standpoint this is kind of late in 2007," Ford said. "But the enterprise (zone) tax credit hopefully makes them see they want to do it right now."

Enterprise zone tax credits allow a business to take a certain credit percentage against their state business income tax.

Ford included copies of the tax credit form with a sheet explaining what it was for with every membership invoice. Papers outlining EDP's mission and future plans also were included, Ford said.

As of Wednesday's meeting, there had not been any contributions returned to EDP's address at Craig City Hall. Some businesses paid earlier in the year, and they are letting Ford know that as the process continues.

Ford did show the board a copy of a consumer preference study done in Routt County in 2003.

The study shows what products and services consumers buy and where they buy them. This is exactly what Moffat County could use to determine which products - such as retail clothing stores and electronics - local shoppers buy in town or from other places, such as Grand Junction, the Front Range or the Internet.

"With this, we can calculate how much of the market share is leaking (out), and how much of a market share there is," Ford said. "I think it's one of our functions to provide this core economic study."

The Steamboat Springs study was valuable up-valley, he said. When business chains moved to the area, local retailers were afraid of the competition.

In that case, businesses were already losing a share of the market to the same chains in further-off locations.

"When Sports Authority came in, there was lots of wringing of hands," Ford said. "But with this study, we could show that business was already leaking out, now it was just leaking closer."

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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